We Made That partnered with Tom Fleming Creative Consultancy and Regeneris to develop a detailed plan for Lewisham to become one of the Mayor of London’s first designated Creative Enterprise Zones. These will be districts of London for which a set of targeted and tailored planning, investment and support activities will be developed.
The Lewisham Creative Enterprise Zone focuses on the districts of New Cross and Deptford – which have undergone a rapid process of culture-led change in recent years. Anchored by Goldsmiths University and cultural institutions such as Laban, Albany and Cockpit Arts, the district is becoming a vital cluster for London’s creative economy.
We Made That partnered with Tom Fleming Creative Consultancy and Regeneris to develop a detailed plan for Hatton Garden to become one of the Mayor of London’s first designated Creative Enterprise Zones. These will be districts of London for which a set of targeted and tailored planning, investment and support activities will be developed.
The Hatton Garden Creative Enterprise Zone is in an area historically known as London’s jewellery district: a place of jewellery making and a major centre for buying and selling. It is London’s hyper-dense cluster of craft skills and creative knowledge. It is a small area with big influence. A vision has been developed to support the evolution of Hatton Garden as a dynamic, networked and engaged creative cluster.
Over the past two decades the Hackney Wick and Fish Island areas have together emerged as one of the leading creative and cultural areas in London, with hundreds of artists’ studios, creative businesses of all sectors and new cultural and community venues springing up. At the same time, the area is under significant development land pressure and there is a need to support this economy locally, while ensuring that growth here includes local communities.
We Made That partnered with Tom Fleming Creative Consultancy and Regeneris to develop a Creative Enterprise Zone to provide a game-changing opportunity to support the sustainable and inclusive growth of this important creative district.
Our vision and strategy, mobilised by an unprecedented period of sector and community engagement, is to develop and embed a CEZ that grows in a way that works for everyone. To achieve this Hackney Wick and Fish Island needs to mature, stabilise, diversify and grow to be increasingly impactful – both for local communities and for London as a diverse global creative city.
We Made That are the only UK practice to make the shortlist in an international design competition to imagine a more walkable pedestrian environment on Des Voeux Road Central – an idea-based contest to re-envision and re-engage the street as quality public space.
Across the world, cities are investing in dramatic transformations of their public realm through the removal of traffic and redesign of streets, they are placing the pedestrian and the environment first. We’re delighted to be collaborating with HASSELL on how Hong Kong can transform Des Voeux Road Central.
Peabody have appointed We Made That to lead a team to develop the Thamesmead Commercial and Industrial Masterplan, which willsetout an ambitious strategic vision for Peabody’s extensive commercial and industrial portfolio in the area. The project will feed into preparations of the Thamesmead Opportunity Area Planning framework, currently being developed by the GLA, TfL, the London Borough of Bexley and the Royal Borough of Greenwich. The study will explore potential for industrial intensification whilst also considering effective placemaking and connectivity across the Thamesmead area.
The team includes socio-economic expertise from Regeneris and property consultancy from Cushman & Wakefield. The masterplan is being produced alongside another Peabody commission - Thamesmead Cultural Infrastructure Plan - which is also being developed by a team led by We Made That, including Regeneris, Tom Fleming, Counterculture and Stockdale.
Construction is due to commence at Cheney Row Park, running from this September to early next year! A new events space, playspace, nature space and improvements to existing entrances will be delivered in Walthamstow.
The project, which was commissioned by the London Borough of Waltham Forest, sits within the Lee Valley Regional Park and will include supporting works to improve ecological interest, providinghealthy, safe and welcoming open space improvements for existing and new communities.
A series of platforms for events, workshops and gathering isplanned as a focal point to enable the space to support more uses and activities. Along with a new play space and nature space, it will help Cheney Row Park become an important place in the neighbourhood.
We will be presenting at the upcoming Edinburgh Culture Summit as part of a delegate workshop led by Theatrum Mundi, alongside Assemble. The workshop will explore the concept of ‘culture infrastructure’ and how to plan for creative production in our cities. The workshop will draw on research we’ve undertaken for the Greater London Authority and various London boroughs exploring cultural and creative facilities and wider production ecosystems, including the recently launched London Artists’ Workspace Study.
The Edinburgh Culture Summit brings together Culture Ministers, policy makers and delegations from around the world. The Summit is a collaboration between the Scottish Government, UK Government, British Council, Edinburgh International Festival and Scottish Parliament, delivered on behalf of the partners by the Edinburgh International Culture Summit Foundation. Now in its fourth edition, the theme of Summit 2018 is Culture: Connecting Peoples and Places. Summit 2018 will address three key themes; Culture in a Networked World, Culture and Investment and Culture and Wellbeing. Confirmed speakers include theatre director Ong Keng Sen on Culture in a Networked World, urban sociologist Richard Sennett on Culture and Investment and Professor of Psychology Dr Assal Habibi on Culture and Wellbeing.
The full programme for the Edinburgh Culture Summit can be found here.
Come and join us for a fun-filled family day in the Kingward House open space. There’ll be lots of activities for everyone on the day- including face painting, bag printing, music and a visit from Spitalfields City Farm.There will also be opportunities to: see the proposed layout for the new planting and play space at Kingward House open space; register yourinterest for the proposed community food garden in the Old Montague Street green space; and learn how to take care of your own growing bed.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, this week called on boroughs and developers to continue to support London’s artists by providing more affordable workspaces, drawing on recent research completed by We Made That for the Greater London Authority. The 2017 Artists’ Workspace Study seeks to understand how workspace provision for London’s artists has changed since the landmark 2014 study on the subject which found that the sector was vulnerable. This study will support the Mayors Cultural Infrastructure Plan, to be launched later this year.
67% of sites identified in 2014 as ‘at risk of closure within 5 years’ had closed by November 2017.
The risk of closure remains high and 24% (57) of current sites providing artists’ workspace are at risk of closure within the next 5 years. This is because so few organisations own the freehold to sites (around 13%).
Between 2014 and 2017, 52 new sites providing artists’ workspace opened – a net gain of 13 sites. Mayoral regeneration funding has supported 5 of these sites.
Workspaces are becoming more expensive. In 2014, 56% of sites charged an average of £11+ per square foot. In 2017, this had risen to 79% of sites.
Many operators provide space for both artists and other creative tenants to support a blended rental income model. That means not every new site provides workspace exclusively for artists.
Sites show very high and continuous occupancy rates. There appears to have been no decline in demand from artists for workspace since 2014.
“London’s creative and cultural sectors are supported by a rich ecosystem of workspaces to make, test and showcase work. Artists’ workspaces and other low-cost employment spaces often provide the research and development opportunities behind London’s world-renowned creative offer. Regular, proactive research into artists’ workspace provision is helping to ensure that these spaces are valued and better embedded in the city as it grows.” (Melissa Meyer, Associate)
We Made That are looking for an experienced urban designer/ planner with knowledge of the London regeneration landscape to join our growing team. We are delivering an increasing number of large masterplanning projects and influential spatial strategies. Our current team of 18 is expected to expand in the near future and we are seeking a new team member capable of working alongside the practice partners and associates. The ideal candidate will be responsible for delivering masterplans and area strategies at a range of scales across the capital.
Candidates applying should:
have a Masters qualification in urban design or similar related subject
have demonstrable strategic or master planning experience in the UK
have the ability to work independently on project development
be seeking opportunity for career progression within the office from this level to a role pursuing, secure and shaping the urban-scale outputs of the practice
demonstrate a powerful public conscience in pursing project goals and practice aims
You must be a talented urban designer and have good technical knowledge with a great eye for presentation. You should have an ability to drive project design development. Excellent communication skills and a desire to contribute to lively, creative & productive team working required. Experience with GIS software and Adobe CS are essential.
Candidates must be eligible to work in the UK and would ideally be available to start in September 2018.
Further details here. Deadline for applications is midday Friday 24th August 2018
Holly spoke at the RIBA East London Arcitects’ Group event, ‘Moving East: An exploration of East London’s Growth’, describing our work for Be First, the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham’s development arm. Together with Hawkins\ Brown, we have been considering the future of the borough’s industrial land - how can be more intensively used, and areas where it may also be able to support delivery of new homes.
Holly spoke at the Centre for London Conference, ‘Under Pressure: The Way Ahead for London’s Streets’.
Managing conflicting pressures on London’s surface transport system and public realm requires new thinking. With the city’s population growing, the event explored the future of mobility and place in London, in particular the implications for the Mayor’s Transport Strategy. Centre for London are calling on the Mayor to make more efficient use of the city’s finite transport, walking and cycling, and make the most of new technology.
In March this year, Holly and Hannah led a placemaking masterclass for a group of young people at the Hull School of Art and Design, as part of the National Saturday Club programme. Alongside tutors of the college and British Land, We Made That challenged the group to rediscover their local shopping centre St Stephen’s, and reveal its unexpected side. The workshop resulted in the group creating a zine using photography, drawing, modelling, printmaking and graphic design, to uncover secrets, celebrate the overlooked and tell new stories about the centre.
An exhibition in Somerset House showcases the stories and creations of 1,500 13-16 year olds attending free Saturday morning classes at their local college, university or museum, courtesy of the National Saturday Club. The zine created by the young people in Hull and We Made That is available at the exhibition which is open between the 9th-17th June, in the Embankment Galleries.
More information about the exhibition and the National Saturday Club can be found here
We are delighted to see The Unlimited Edition is featured within the Print! Tearing It Up exhibition at Somerset House - an exhibition which aims to celebrate independent voices challenging the status quo and explore radical British magazines from 20th century.
The exhibition is free and runs till 22nd August 2018 within the Terrace Rooms, South Wing of Somerset House.
We Made That have collaborated with Studio Egret West to curate an exhibition exploring the future of urban living and industry in London, as part of the London Festival of Architecture.
The exhibition is open on weekdays 10am – 4pm throughout the month of June, at Studio Egret West’s Clerkenwell studio.
As part of the exhibition, Holly is joining a panel discussion hosted by Studio Egret West on Thursday 14th June, which will examine the challenges and opportunities facing London’s industrial sites. The panel will also include: Rob McNicol (Greater London Authority), Rob Sloper (U+I), Lucas Lawrence (SEW) and David West (SEW) as chair. To attend RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
‘’London is a successful city, a fact supported by its continued growth. But with this success comes pressure to increase the density of underdeveloped sites; industrial land, with its often large surface areas and single storey buildings, has disproportionally suffered the consequences of this. This industrial land provides an important source of employment as well as space for the manufacturing, production, storage and distribution networks which support our lifestyles. Car repairers, brewers, bakers and coffee roasters, specialist trade suppliers for plumbers and electricians, steel fabricators and other manufacturers – many are leaving the capital because the land they occupy is wanted for housing. If London’s continued growth is to be a long term success, it must retain the provision of jobs and services for all those who live there; London needs both industry and housing.
The recently-published draft London Plan offers an opportunity to create new architectural identities for these very large, previously hidden areas of London dominated by low density, monocultural industrial use. Our exhibition looks into the possibilities for this identity, focusing on some of our recent works – from speculative through to complete - which explore unusual hybrids and challenge the preconceived ideas of how industry and communities can relate.’’
Karen Smith, critical friend of Heart of Glass, and Patrick Fox, Director: Heart of Glass
Heart of Glass is an agency for collaborative and social arts practice. We haveiteratively built a programme in St Helens, changingways of working in publicspaces. Sometimes the evolving practice has emerged from oddity and disruption.Civic engagement withpublic space in this way was rare until Heart of Glassappeared in St Helens – during the original 2015 programme, we were oftenstopped because of the way we were moving people through the town. As the practicehas become more embedded in the town,people are starting to see it as ‘a Heartof Glass thing’.
1. Beecham Building
Heart ofGlass work from Beecham Building. Part of Arts Council England Funded Creative People and Placesprogramme, from 2018we have achieved Arts Council England National PortfolioOrganisation funding and investment from St Helens Council.
2. The Rocks
Marking a car parkboundary of ‘The Range’ retail store,The Rockswere moulded in fabric for ‘SilentNight’ one of ourearliestproductions with artist Rhona Byrne and local students in December2014.
3. The Hotties, Sankey Canal
Adjacent to the doors of ‘The Range’, the canal water of theHotties disappears under tarmac. On a Saturday afternoon in November2015, MarciaFarquar began her perambulatory tour ‘A Song for St Helens’ here, on the railings,in a swimsuit and swimcap. Formingpart of the ‘Through theLooking Glass’ weekend of events in partnership with Live Art DevelopmentAgency, the previous evening hadseen ‘Duckie’ with Ursula Martinez at The Citadel, for which Heart of Glasshad requested a (declined) nudity licence.
Three police squad cars pulled up. The police had beencalled by a ‘concerned member of the public’ who said there was a woman onthecanal, taking her clothes off, and she was going to kill herself. Startled, we observedthat Marcia was wearing a swimsuit, was notnude and was not undressing. A farcicalconversation ensued which jumbled the previous night’s artists and events withthe afternoon’splans.
The kerfuffle caused by 15 people congregating, warranting threepolice squad cars was an interesting turning point. The use ofheterotopicspaces has increased and from challenging beginnings, a solid relationship withthe police has also evolved.
Artist Mark Storor has committed to working with us for 12years on BaaBaa Babaric. Two years into this artistic partnership, Storor’sproject acrossthe town in September 2017 marked the change in police relations. The policeran a chip shop for the day and policehorses garlanded with flowers supportedyoung people and the artist to question long-held assumptions of the town.
At World of Glassjust along from the Hotties, Marisa Carnesky’s HauntedFurnace took place. The history of glass making in the townhas createdvenue, narrative and subject for Heart of Glass. World of Glass and the formerPilkington Glass Headquarters have beenused for happenings from HauntedFurnace in October 2015 to RearWindow in November 2016.
4. Chalon Way Multi-Storey Car Park
Across The Range carpark, the landmark Chalon WayMulti-Storey became one of the lead images for Brass Callswith Artists French& Mottershead incollaboration with Haydock Brass Band.
At the opposite entrance to Chalon Way carpark, artistsHeather and Ivan Morrison are working to create a part-art work, part-civicspace Skate Park with St. Helens Skate community. As a partnership with police usingpolice commissioners fund income and theCouncil, public space will bereimagined. Skateboarders who are persistently moved on from Church Square willbe able to repositionthemselves literally and metaphorically.
5. St Mary’s Market
StMary’s Market hosts Platform Artists Studios and Heart of Glass popularweekly Family Art Club.
6. Chamber of Commerce
Chamber of Commerce have agreed to acknowledge artisticpractice as a contribution to workforce economy, and we’re continuing todevelop connections with local businesses, including piloting an arts skillsdevelopment course. We’ve also established an artist on StHelens economyboard.
7. Vera Page Park
At the opposite end of the Sankey Canal is Vera Page Park.Three signs demarcate the park, renamed via working with artist JoshuaSofaeron YourName Here in 2015.
This location forms the hub of Council regeneration plansfor a new town centre. Long-term, we’re working on St Helens becoming acentrefor collaborative practice. St Helens Council is on the journey with us.Focused on culture, education and opportunity, we areworking with the Councilon embedding a culture of production into the town. Built around culture, notretail.
2018 is St Helens 150th anniversary. Vera Page Parkis also a site for a proposed Pavilions project, and we’d like to see voluntarygroups in St Helens work with to build structures that allow or create pointsof visibility for local creative communities.
8. St Helens RFC
Initially we were based at St Helens RFC. The partnership continues;on match days, pre-match and at half time we curate artists’ videoscreeningin partnership with Abandon Normal Devicesand FACT reaching a potential audience of 15,000.
9. Quaker Lodge (Friends Meeting House)
QuakerLodge is St Helen’s oldest building.We partnered with The Quakers on Verity Standen’s Refrainand held our second‘WithForAbout’conference here in May 2017.
As part of Takeoverfest with Scottee in 2015, older people’s groups from across St. Helens knitbombed FriendsPark on Shaw Street.Installed on a Saturday, knitting covered most surfaces. By10am on Sunday morning it had gone. Despite having permissions, theCouncil ‘CleanUp team’ had been, not checked who had creatively dressed the space, and took itall away. Similarly, to the MarciaFarquar incident, we learnt an interestinglesson: in 2015 when the strange was encountered in St Helens, it was tidied awayasspeedily as possible. The veneer of cleanliness runs strong and inspired usto question ‘Where are wedirecting our attention?’ Skateboarders areostracised after the town shuts down at 6pm and perceived as ‘anti-social’. Knittingis perceived as ‘mess’. With theCouncil our aim is to reimagine andmobilise the energy of tidying away for more collectively positive ends.
Most projectsat a point unearth some sort of democratic deficit. How do we make use of thatknowledge well? WithForAbout and otherencounters createopportunities to have challenging conversations and share learning. Hugetrust has been put in our programming.Tensions can exist in a project and we need to allow them to be there,to be part of learning and connecting with each other.
10. George Street Quarter, and The George Pub
In October 2017 the Idle Women Institutewas opened on Haydock Street, achieved with Arts Council Ambition forExcellence funding.
Verity Standen’s Refrainfeatured a non-verbal male choir promenading around George Street in May 2017.Refrain told the story ofErnest Everett; a school teacher in St Helens who wasprosecuted as the UKs first Conscientious Objector. The George Pub hostsmany meetups for Heart of Glass and formed one of the locations for the choir.
11. The Hardshaw Shopping Centre
Artists’collective TheInstitute for the Art and Practice of Dissent supported the re-instigation of benches outside theshopping centre.The shopping centre had removed all the benches, which wereprimarily used by pensioners. Many protests by older people’s groupshad takenplace. Forming part of our Live Art Weekender, the Institute dragged a benchinto the shopping centre, utilised a megaphone,and refused to move.
12. Church Square
Church Squareforms a congregation point in the town centre. In 2015 Brass Calls was sounded here with composerAdam D J Taylor.Calls were created from personal tales and local phrases, and turnedinto musical scores performed and recorded by The HaydockBand. In 2017 the square hosted Candy Chang’sBefore I Die. A project inviting people tocontemplate death, reflect on life, and sharetheir personal aspirations in publicon chalkboard.We had to wipe our chalkboard six times a day, the levelof interaction was soengaged.
13. St Helens Star Headquarters
YourName Here programmeannouncements were distributed free with the Star and reached 70,000 homes.
14. The Town Hall
In May 2015 a three metre neon sign of the words ‘Your NameHere’ illuminated the front of the Town Hall. Heart of Glass heads to theTownHall most weeks to meet withCouncil representatives ranging from the Chief Executive to Regeneration to PublicHealth.
15. Young Carers Centre
St Helens hasa strikingly high population of young carers (over 2,500 under-18s). Mark Storor’s BaaBaa Babaric project isworkingwith young carers as part of his 12-year commitment toHeart of Glass and St Helens.
Back at Beecham Building completing the circle.
As CulturalGeographer Tim Cresswell observes, spaces are transformed into placeswhen meaning is attached. Culture drives ourplace-based journey with all ourpartners. We are demonstrating that we can change thinking around culturalproduction and economyand fit the need to create new thinking and fit-for-purposecapital development in the town. We hope that development can speak torealcommunity need, as the effects of austerity and a crumbling communitydevelopment sector continue to be felt. Utilising existingvenues and publicspace in St Helens and co-opting any new capital spaces might eclipse the allureof new, less communaldistractions. Our 2018 programme of work shares thislong-term ambition with the local authority and with Arts Council England.StHelens Council haveinvested substantially in our 2018 programme as the transformation of St Helenscontinues.
The following is an excerpt from the Liverpool Biennial’s Stages #5.
Community Arts is an area of work that at its best, catalyses creative action - and at its worst, exploits and makes fools of us all. The most successful and admired work I’ve made in the field falls outside the existing frameworks and expectations of Community Art. Its scope, longevity and ambition went beyond anything facilitated by arts administrators and well beyond anything I imagined possible.
As well as commissioning permanent public realm and re-branding art works, regeneration companies routinely hire Community Artists for targeted direct contact with communities where regeneration plans are afoot. Artists are brought in to aid goodwill, engender trust, involve people, and mediate change, as much as to make art. The kind of art that might change perceptions of an area, adorn the pages of an annual report, be used in a Public Inquiry or add value to property development. Artist’s residencies on regeneration projects have documented environments destined for destruction, used demolition spoil for building artwork, and collected The Hopes of a neighbourhood. The Fears though? Not so much. The creative agenda for Community Art projects funded by the regenerist will likely differ from that of the local artists or residents. One is primarily concerned with promoting a Promised Land, the other is focused on surviving the external investment, and the social cleansing or gentrification that might come with it.
The task of shining a light on the displacement and dismay of the people designed out of post-demolition development is not going to be supported by the developers and regeneration officials. Such visions run contrary to the interests of the development partnerships. By chance, I joined one of many communities destined for demolition in 2004, when my home and neighbourhood in Liverpool were scheduled for destruction. I translated my experience as a piece of human spoil into an art work that was appreciated by the local community and others like it. It was reviewed in the art press, covered in the academic press and was toured in a North of England textile exhibition. The work Nothing Is Private - a net curtain with audience activated security lighting was shown and promoted as part of Liverpool Independents Biennial in 2006. So it straddled many communities and resonated in multiple contexts. It was shown in the front window of my home. I live over the road from Granby in an area similarly blighted by failed regeneration schemes and where another grassroots campaign has succeeded in rescuing homes from the bulldozers.
When my home and studio in Liverpool’s Welsh Streets was threatened with demolition in a regeneration area, the Compulsory Purchase Orders did actually come with the sweetener of an official artist-in-residence, Moira Kenny, who came and worked in an empty house in Powis Street for a number of weeks in June 2006. The residency, funded by the local Housing Market Renewal (HMR) company New Heartlands and their partners Plus Dane, took place in an empty corner shop on the contested site. Applications for the post were filtered. I was forbidden from tendering for the official Welsh Streets residency, despite being a Welsh Streets resident and an artist. As secretary and spokesperson for the local campaign group seeking alternatives to demolition, I had a national media profile, my opinions were known, and the protagonists of the scheme presumably needed to prevent me from articulating dissent amongst a local audience. In protest, a reputable local Community Art group refused to apply for it themselves as a response to my exclusion. So they filtered themselves out in solidarity.
A closed tender process selected an artist from outside the area, but inside the arts community, who came and made artwork in Powis St. I showed my work concurrently with her official Welsh Streets residency work as part of Liverpool Independents Biennial 2006. I suppose I effectively infiltrated the programme of creative work visible in the district, made a local dimension available and overcame the ban by simply being a) a resident and b) an artist. The work - the net curtain - received critical acclaim expounding the loss of privacy and personal autonomy faced by the little people when confronted with big plans. Its performative aspect (the work exposed the household to the street by lighting them) was as uncomfortable for the viewer as it was for the viewed. Rather than sit by and become the invisible Welsh Streets resident artist passed over by powerful external interests, I created a piece that engineered super visibility. Without a doubt I was emboldened by the support of my community. The Nothing is Private net was made and toured as part of the Mechanical Drawing exhibition produced by the Embroidery Department at Manchester Metropolitan University. So it was enabled by another community: the embroiderers, textile makers, lace workers and academics in the North West who view me as a radical textile artist, and a bona fide member of their community. So they visited too, traveling to the Welsh Streets mostly from the North. I put out a visitor’s book and people wrote in it, thus becoming part of the archive of commentary about the streets, the houses. A new dimension was added to the cultural tourism package that Liverpool is so proud of: the ghetto tourism of the tinned-up terraces.
They were followed by Heritage tourists, UNESCO walking tours, Jane’s Walk town planners, law and social science departments, urbanists, artists, drama, art and composition students, historians, archivists, architects and journalists, TV crews and animators. All visited the Welsh Streets and as campaign spokesperson I spoke with them all. In 2016, Samson Kambalu filmed in the Welsh Streets for a new commission that was presented as part of Liverpool Biennial 2016. He walks in the footsteps of numerous photographers, among them Mark Loudon & Sandy Volz (commissioned by Welsh Streets Home Group), Rob Bremner, Peter Carr, Peter Haggerty and Ciara Leeming, who included us in her comprehensive photographic journal of the HMR process. Kambalu will join countless press photographers, TV cameramen and bloggers. All welcome, all walking the wasted Welshies, pointing cameras at our homes while we twitch our nets.
And me, I’ve taken thousands of photographs here too, because as campaign spokesperson, I found that a picture speaks a thousand tears. The net curtain Nothing Is Private is a direct action that harnessed art as both a shield and a decoder in a war of information. It can be contextualised among other cultural resistances that re-negotiate imposed narratives. Here the flimsiest, lowliest media articulated the experience of dread and degradation experienced by communities in clearance zones and became a testimony to that experience. It was documented in art and academic publications. Could it have been commissioned by a Community Arts organisation? None that I know of. Community Art tends to avoid controversy. The work toured Northern cities where large-scale demolition was also being un-rolled, by coincidence of economic history and the demise of textile production in the region. The regeneration consortia have a commissioning agenda and PR budget focused on the need to mediate the developer’s aspirations. Anything else the community produces – well, the community will pay for. And pay they did.
Cultural output from the broader community followed the net curtain. There was an extraordinary outbreak of unsolicited, unfunded and sometimes un-legal cultural intervention in and around the contested Welsh Streets. Playwrights, community theatre groups, poets, photographers, graffiti mongers, choirs, bands, filmmakers, animators, stitchers, photographers, seed-sowers and yarn bombers passed through the Welsh Streets each leaving a small mark. Mark of respect maybe. To residents each small work marked a small survival. Morale was super-boosted with every contribution. It blew over the road into Granby Four streets, who were, according to them, quite sparked up by the Welsh Streets tin sheet drawings and daffodil planting. They were to go creative in grand style - with paintings and planters that far exceeded our Welshie productions in scale and quality.
The genius Granby neighbourhood campaigners founded a community market that included music, art, food and stalls. That meant a financial, social and cultural exchange mechanism was operating across two clearance sites, one on either side of Princes Avenue. It was a community, and it was art – but unique, self-directed and un-administered. We (that is, the Welsh Streets Home Group or WSHG) swapped campaign news, traded ideas and ran campaign events on stalls at the Granby Four Streets Market, at carnival, in Toxteth Town Hall, Toxteth TV and in the local shops and chippies. We had received local and national press for years, but nothing glued us together and drew us out and drew us together as well as culture did. A community of supporters had made themselves visible independently, creatively and repeatedly. The media coverage of threatened communities and their homes in the Welsh Streets was un-abated; four TV features supplemented considerable print and radio coverage.
Liverpool Biennial began projects in Anfield and Bootle, both areas stalked by the bulldozers. As the renowned Homebaked Anfield project went from strength to strength, TV foodie Jay Rayner arrived to judge a baking contest. I entered a loaf of bread in the bake off, for which I made special commemorative packaging. It was a throwaway thing. Merchandising survival. The wrapper read ‘RISE UP ANFIELD’ in red and ‘Greetings from the Welsh Streets’ in green. I took a picture and tweeted it. It pinged - appearing in ghost form when Liverpool Football Club used a similar wonky red text to repeat my slogan on a 12 x 24 ft hoarding outside the ground, opposite the Homebaked bakery. So Rise Up left the bread wrapper, travelled via social media and landed on the hoarding of (one of) our famous football club(s). You’re welcome L.F.C.
The full piece originally appeared in the Liverpool Biennial online journal ‘Stages’ #5 titled ‘Community Arts? Learning from the Legacy of Artists’ Social Initiatives’
Established in 2015 to provide affordable studio space in Liverpool’s city centre, CBS also presents a programme of exhibitions, talks and events showcasing the work of emerging artists from across the UK. Set up by graduates from Liverpool John Moores BA Fine Art course, the space aimed to fill a distinct gap in the artist-led activity in the city. That is to say, despite the perfect conditions in terms of low rent and available property, few graduates were staying in the city to set up new spaces or initiatives with a public facing exhibition programme.
The original site in the Crown Buildings on Victoria Street was a few minutes walk from the city centre and Lime Street Station, which made for busy openings and provided an alternative to the affordable artist studios that were often pushed to the outskirts of the city. Within the same building A Small Cinema set up on the ground floor, opening a community run cinema. Between the two, this created a hub of grassroots cultural activity in a location that was accessible for residents and people visiting the city.
Unfortunately the studio’s central location turned out to be too good to be true. At the beginning of 2017 the Crown Buildings along with neighbouring Grade II listed properties, the Jerome and Carlisle Buildings, were purchased by developers Signature Living with planning permission granted for a Luxury Hotel to compliment the one they built on the opposite side of the street the year before. A decade on from the European Capital of Culture award, increased investment and redevelopment of the city centre has called for new areas to emerge that allow for start-ups and grassroots initiatives. While this marginalisation of creative spaces from the city’s centre has its negatives, it has also assisted in creating more concentrated creative communities in areas like the Baltic Triangle, where CBS moved to in March 2017.
For CBS the move provided a welcome point of renewal. The new location on Blundell Street in an old dock warehouse had the space needed to house a workshop, enabling sculptural production and picture framing services in-house to create greater financial flexibility independent of public funding. The success of which has been enhanced by the studio’s integration in the local community of the Baltic Triangle and its proximity to a wider range of creative amenities.
As well as larger production space the new location offers a more generous gallery for the exhibition programme. The gallery acts as a space for the directors and studio holders to host a range of artistic projects, curatorial experiments and residency exhibitions. The continued advocacy of artists is the underpinning aim of the gallery’s activity. Artists who have previously exhibited are invited to submit artists’ editions to be sold via an online shop, providing support to the participating artists and the opportunity for people to collect the work of emerging artists.
Around the same time that CBS was founded Rory MacBeth was appointed as the new head of the art school at LJMU. This marked a new outward facing approach to the Fine Art course. Establishing graduate residencies with local artist-led studios as well as points throughout the three years of the course to collaborate and work with local art communities. In its second year at CBS the graduate residency is providing a crucial platform for graduates looking to stay in the city and continue working, contributing to the growth of the artist-led network in the city and further afield.
Liverpool punches above its weight in this field - with extraordinary buildings and institutions from Tate Liverpool in the iconic Albert Dock, its seven national museums, the Bluecoat and the Art Deco majesty of the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall to name but a few.
Add to that in the last decade the RIBA Sterling Prize winning EverymanThe Invisible Wind Factory, and you see a city bursting at the seams with ‘cultural infrastructure’. An impressive funding and support framework has grown up around these buildings.
This infrastructure has not emerged by magic. Lots of brilliant work has been undertaken by cultural organisations across the city, there has been brave and unwavering political support, cash investment by the Mayor of Liverpool has been maintained at a level unmatched outside of London - even with the backdrop of cuts and austerity. There has, and continues to be, a real willingness to take culture seriously and to recognise its value socially and economically.
An advanced network of groups bring the creative and cultural sector together regularly to encourage and enable collaboration. A funding structure has been created which bridges the public and private sector, dedicated roles engage the education sector and local communities in opportunities, and a pipeline of talent from the city’s four major universities ensures a fresh and vibrant injection of ideas every year.
In 2018, Liverpool marks the tenth anniversary of being European Capital of Culture with another big year of programming, which is made possible by the fact that this infrastructure exists and is in such good health. The investment, support and passion of all aspects of the city over the last decade are all crucial factors enabling the extraordinary transformation we have seen.
But personally, I think the most important legacy of 2008 is not the physical or built environment, but the emotional infrastructure which has been created.
Capital of Culture gave this city a new energy, a renewed sense of self and importance in the world. The audiences of Liverpool have repaid this with a new commitment, acceptance and understanding of arts and culture. They are willing to try new things, to be challenged and stretched and to embrace creative ambition and innovation.
They have become voracious consumers. They turn out in their hundreds of thousands for free major events, they head to music and art shows in locations across the city and throughout the year. They embrace big international names and nurture emerging home-grown talent.
Without an audience who want what is being created, the breadth anddo as a society.
They are sophisticated but not pretentious. Vocal but constructive. Accepting of the new, and proud of the old. And importantly, they rightly demand excellence.
Liverpool is not a monetarily rich city. But a diverse opinionated audience, where three generations of a family will come together to create memories, want to be engaged and want to be part of a city wide democratic conversation.
As we march into an uncertain future, where there are threats topassion and emotional infrastructure which we have been able to foster in this city is what will allow us to face these challenges head on.
We will continue to grow and build over the next decade – our ambition has no expiry date. There are still more boundaries to be pushed and audiences to captivate. Liverpool’s creative appetite remains insatiable and that is the infrastructure which will serve us well.
We Made That have been appointed to lead a team to producea strategic masterplan for Park Royal Centre, which willset out an ambitious vision toaccommodate a minimum of 1,400 new jobs, 650 new homes and 3,000sqm of new towncentre floorspace.Designatedas a neighbourhood centre and sitting at the heart of London’s largestindustrial estate,the proposals for Park RoyalCentre will tackle transport, public realm and built environment enhancements,as well asimproving the function, quality and health of this place foremployees and residents.
The planned transformation of Park Royal Centre will be complemented by our team’s development of an early activation programme that is geared towards delivering change now.
Park Royal, located immediately to the west of Old Oak, is London’s largest industrial estate. The majority of this area is identified as a Strategic Industrial Location (SIL) in the London Plan and OPDC’s Local Plan. Today the area accommodates a wide range of businesses from small start-ups to large multi-national brands which operate across a range of sectors. The vision for Park Royal is for it to continue to thrive as an industrial area and for it to accommodate even more businesses and jobs in future.